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United Way surpasses fundraising goal

The Citrus chapter brings in more than $577,000 for 2000. Publix and Florida Power Corp. lead the way.

By MARY ANN KOSLASKY

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 23, 2001


INVERNESS -- The meeting was short and sweet -- and that's not a reference to the sweet rolls and muffins that graced so many breakfast plates.

The United Way of Citrus County Regents 100 met at 7:30 a.m. Thursday at the Golden Corral to hear the results of the 2000 campaign. By 8 a.m., United Way Board president Arthur Rubin had given the good news, presented the awards and posed for pictures.

The sweet news: United Way surpassed its goal of $575,000, raising $577,193.81. The stunner came when Rubin announced that Publix Super Markets had donated $123,376, surpassing Florida Power Corp.'s donation of $76,338.52, which had been announced earlier.

Both donations included employee and corporate money.

In recent years, a gentle rivalry has developed between the two companies. Dawn Arline, the United Way executive director, is not above exploiting that.

"Last year (1999), Publix beat Florida Power, so I went back to Florida Power and mentioned it to them," Arline said. "They went back and did add another corporate donation, and they just passed Publix."

Noting that many of the Publix employees are retirees or young people, Arline said, "It's amazing to me that the majority of those people don't (make a lot of money) and that they always contribute so much."

Ray Parrish, manager of the Citrus Hills Publix, whose staff won an award within the company for raising the most of the four Citrus County Publix stores, was proud of his group, but he added that "one thing I really want to stress is that this is a tribute to associates in all the stores."

The room filled with applause as Rubin announced the 51 employer campaign results and the 27 Gemstone Society awards for individuals who had contributed $1,000 or more.

"We'd like to get more companies involved," said Arline. "We should be very proud. In a year that United Way of Marion County was down so much, we exceeded our goal. And that's thanks to the caring people that live in this county."

Planning for the 2001 campaign soon will begin.

Which prompted Arline to say, "Like Arnold Schwarzenegger said: "We'll be back!' "

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